May 102016
 

Important news out of the UK this morning, where the government (National Crime Agency) tried to get a court to compel Lauri Love to provide decryption key to devices they had seized from him. Love had refused, arguing (understandably), that he had never been charged with any crime, and that they were attempting to do an end-run around protections under RIPA by a back-door route (“case management” to forcing compliance.

This morning, the court denied the government’s motion. The Free Lauri campaign explains:

This morning at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, District Judge Nina Tempia rejected a National Crime Agency (NCA) request to use the court’s case management powers to order Lauri Love to hand over his encryption keys, preventing a dangerous precedent that would have given UK police new powers to compel people to decrypt their electronic devices, even if they are not suspected of a crime.

Remarking on the NCA’s application, the judge said that authorities must instead use the existing legal regime created by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) if they wish to compel someone to surrender encryption keys, and that the court’s case management powers cannot be used by authorities to circumvent statutory safeguards in RIPA.

Read more on Free Lauri.

The information on the encrypted devices may, or may not, contain evidence relating to charges Love faces in the U.S., and the US has previously applied to the UK to extradite Love. Love has been fighting the extradition, claiming that if there are any charges, they should be filed and tried in the UK. But the UK did not find evidence/grounds to prosecute Love there.

So if Love’s going to prosecuted for hacking – and he’s been indicted in three federal districts here by now – it’s going to be in the US, and today’s ruling in the UK means that the US won’t be getting any additional evidence from his devices in the foreseeable future. Of course, they will argue that they already have enough evidence and just need the UK to extradite Love, but today’s ruling is likely a disappointment to prosecutors here.

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